Opinion-Editorial as appeared in "The Desert Sun" May 22, 2016
Larry Lawrence, Special to the Desert Sun
As a Southern California native, the mountains in the San Bernardino National Forest have always been an important part of my life. When I was a boy, I spent countless days camping and exploring the dense forests and rugged trails that define the landscape. Now, as a natural resource manager at Nestlé Waters, I am privileged to serve as a steward for the water that flows from the Arrowhead Springs in Strawberry Canyon. Every day, my priority is to manage these precious resources responsibly so Californians continue to experience the beauty of these mountains for generations.
With the U.S. Forest Service now working on the renewal of Nestlé's permit to operate a four-inch, stainless steel water pipeline in this forest, there have been concerns expressed about the sustainability of our operations. I understand Californians' interest in these critical resources and I want to make sure that all are aware of Nestlé's commitment to effective water management.
Californians have enjoyed Arrowhead Mountain Spring water bottled from the springs in what is now the San Bernardino National Forest for 121 years. The longevity of this operation is evidence in itself that we are focused on managing these water sources sustainably.
So how do we do it? We do not pump spring water out of the aquifer, but rather only source water that naturally flows to the surface. This helps ensure we are never collecting more than is naturally available. We also have a team of engineers, hydrologists, biologists and geologists who consistently monitor all of our spring sources and balance their use based on local conditions to make sure we are not overly reliant on any single spring source.
As we work with the Forest Service on the renewal of our permit, Nestlé has also proposed a voluntary and extensive, science-based environmental management plan.
Using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (a scientifically accepted standard) we will reduce our water withdrawals in consultation with the Forest Service when scientific measurements warrant. In addition to responding to drought conditions, our plan also includes triggers to measure and address potential impacts on the riparian habitat and the population and health of individual species. Used together, these triggers will ensure clear, responsible management of this vital California resource.
We are committed to working with the Forest Service to put this plan into action to protect the natural environment while providing the highest level of transparency.
We care about managing California's resources because we are Californians. Nestlé USA is headquartered in California. We employ more than 7,000 people in the state and more than 80 percent of the water bottled here is sold here. And just like Californians throughout the state we are focused on cutting back on water use during this drought and developing innovative ways to conserve across our operations. For example, work is underway to transform our Nestlé milk factory in the city of Modesto into a "zero water" factory in 2017 by recycling the water extracted from milk and reusing it in our operations.
We are also implementing the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard in all of our California operations within the next two years. These rigorous standards were developed by environmental groups, leading development organizations and industry and will help keep water use sustainable long-term.
From the forest to our factories, we are committed to responsible water use that works for California.
Email Larry A. Lawrence, regional natural resource manager for Nestlé Waters North America, at Larry.Lawrence@waters.nestle.com
Gene Zimmerman, U.S. Forest Service Retiree, Op-Ed, "Riverside Press-Enterprise"
Larry Lawrence blog post, NWNA Source Blog, "Our Commitment to California"